BACKYARDs and courtyards are common features of many houses in the temperate countries like Australia and New Zealand, but to have such settings in Sarawak is definitely a luxury.
Many backyards here are rather limited in space, just a few square metres per unit – making it not open and spacious enough for landscape features like waterfalls, pebble walkways and a playground.
Design ideas to explore
Do not be discouraged, though. Any backyard design idea would come about owing to the local warm weather, which makes it nice to relax outdoors. The site can be near the patio or poolside, and an extension is good for a sit-down area complete with tables and chairs.
My friend Robert had his backyard extension done to accommodate pot-luck buffets and meetings, which was simply nice for a gathering of between 12 and 15 people.
Beyond the terrace, there is green garden full of fruit crops such as avocado, passion fruit, pineapples, guava, and lime, as well as other plants like lemongrass, chillies and tomatoes.
On the side, he has rows of flowering plants to brighten up the patio area. The wall has some cardboard boxes to place books, magazines and also newspapers, where anyone can just pick out of for leisure reading.
A DIY project
As a do-it-yourself (DIY) project for the home owner, a variety of styles means that we should able to find the perfect options that meet for our needs.
Here, I would like to add in the plants and flowers to boost the surroundings, so as to be environmentally-friendly. In this case, choose potted green plants that are easy to maintain.
With a few budget-friendly purchases, we can create a beautiful space where people would feel much invited to spend time together.
Arrange thrift furniture pieces, a coffee table and an outdoor rug on the patio.
To create the shade meant to shelter us from the glaring brightness and also to make the ambience cooler, we can add a pagoda or other ‘pasang siap’ (ready to assemble) structures. This was exactly what my neighbour had done for his patio, where I enjoyed my Hari Raya visit the other day.
An outdoor bar is a great addition to the backyard, one that can be used all year long.
Barstools and a cart for drinks, glasses and other utensils can be very handy. A bar is a good place for the backyard as it can be a hub where people would gather, converse and exchange of stories with one another.
Provided that one has a more spacious compound, installing a ready-built whirlpool or a mini swimming pool is just the best, especially during a heatwave.
Any water feature can add value to any home in a bustling city.
I have constructed a mini pool, measuring four feet long, 15 feet wide, and five feet deep, at home – very well-liked by family members and especially loved by my grandchildren.
It is not a problem to keep the water clean – thanks to the automatic filtration.
The pool truly opens unlimited opportunities for any outdoor hobby.
An outdoor extension is heaven for those who love carpentry, and this can be achieved by setting up a simple workshop.
A professional landscaper can design an outdoor living corner by building a pergola over the private living room. Such design is good for our tropical climate, with frequent rainfall.
This seems to be a favourite choice, especially when equipped with cooking appliances, a big-screen TV and an entertainment corner, great for those who like to karaoke.
This open-concept with a simple kitchen and an entertainment space makes urban or country living suitable for most families.
In fact, it is quite normal for most home-owner to extend the wet kitchen outside the original room. Recently, I visited a new house bought by a colleague, who was very proud to show me the extension that he had made outside where there was a full range of cooking facilities, including an oven and a barbeque stall.
In another occasion, I paid a New Year visit to my lady colleague, who had an even bigger open-space stretching from the dining room.
She gladly showed me a large, three-inch thick ‘belian’ (ironwood) table enough to accommodate 10 people. This augmented the well-polished ‘belian’ floor.
Belian, by the way, is very hard to find and it is expensive too.
As if the table and flooring were not enough, my lady friend already had plans to add a custom-made pool, a fountain and also decks to separate the lawn.